Australia Motorcycle Club News

Police have arrested six men and three women in Sydney linked to motorcycle gangs over an alleged plot to fraudulently claim $700,000 in bushfire grants

By Josh Dye Sydney Morning Herald

Police have arrested six men and three women in Sydney linked to motorcycle gangs over an alleged plot to fraudulently claim $700,000 in bushfire grants for victims of last summer’s fires.

A two-day operation resulted in officers executing 11 search warrants on Wednesday and Thursday at properties in western Sydney, the Hawkesbury region and the Southern Highlands.

Police say the group attempted to claim $700,000 and successfully obtained $113,000.
Police say the group attempted to claim $700,000 and successfully obtained $113,000.Credit:Nick Moir

Detectives formed Strike Force Fireant in August after receiving information the Rebels motorcycle gang was allegedly involved in unlawfully accessing money from a state government scheme intended for bushfire victims.

Police say while the gang member and associates claimed $700,000 in funding, they obtained $113,000. The money was allegedly spent by the group prior to their arrests.

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During the co-ordinated raids officers seized documents, mobile phones, SIM cards, laptops and hard drives, as well as cash, ecstasy, ice, cannabis, steroids and prescription medication.

Between 6am and 6.30am on Wednesday, police arrested five men over the alleged fraud plot, including two who allegedly co-ordinated the effort. One man allegedly took commissions for offering advice on exploiting the grants.

A 30-year-old Lalor Park man was charged with 14 counts of publishing misleading material to obtain an advantage, dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime with intent to conceal.

A 30-year-old man from Sackville, north of Richmond, was charged with 10 counts of publishing misleading material to obtain an advantage, dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime with intent to conceal, and contravening a prohibition or restriction in an apprehended violence order.

A 29-year-old Wilberforce man was charged with three counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, two counts of publishing false misleading material to obtain an advantage, and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime with intent to conceal.

A 31-year-old Hill Top man, who police say is a member of the Rebels gang, was charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime with intent to conceal, acquiring ammunition subject to a prohibition order, and publishing false or misleading material to obtain an advantage.

A 32-year-old Box Hill man was charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime with intent to conceal, and three counts of possessing a prohibited drug.

About 2pm on Wednesday, police arrested a 26-year-old South Windsor woman who was charged with publishing false or misleading material to obtain an advantage and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime with intent to conceal.

A 25-year-old North Richmond man was issued a court attendance notice for dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime with intent to conceal, and publishing false or misleading material to obtain an advantage.

At 6am on Thursday morning, a 25-year-old Westmead woman and a 37-year-old Colebee woman were arrested and charges are expected to be laid.

Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow, commander of the criminal groups squad, said the alleged crimes were heinous given the devastating fire season.

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“The bushfires completely destroyed thousands of homes, schools, community facilities and other critical infrastructure and tragically claimed the lives of 26 people, including three Rural Fire Service volunteers,” Mr Critchlow said.

“Unfortunately, there are segments of society who will choose to use situations such as these to gain personal financial advantage, and not surprisingly on this occasion the alleged offenders have ties to outlaw motorcycle gangs.”

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